Kibble Awards

There are two categories of the Nita B. Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers, which support outstanding Australian female literary achievement:

The Kibble Literary Award recognizes the work of an established Australian female writer.

The Dobbie Literary Award recognizes a first published work from an Australian female writer. 

The Nita B. Kibble Literary Awards for Women Writers recognize the works of women writers who have published fiction or non-fiction classified as ‘life writing’. This includes novels, autobiographies, biographies, literature and any writing with a strong personal element. The object of the Awards is to encourage Australian women writers to improve and advance Australian literature for the benefit of the community.

Source: website

Lambda Literary Awards

Lambda Literary Awards, given annually for works published the previous year, showcase works of “literary merit and content relevant to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lives.”

There are several specific awards for different categories, but, in general, “Lambda Literary Awards are open to all authors regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity except in the case of the special awards.” 

To be considered, works must have been distributed in the United States during the specified year. Books must be published in English, but translations from other languages are eligible. Self-published books are eligible, but books available only in ebook format are not.

Source: Lambda Literary

magical realism

alternate term: magic realism

“A worldwide twentieth-century tendency in the graphic and literary arts, especially painting and prose fiction. The frame or surface of the work may be conventionally realistic, but contrasting elements—such as the supernatural, myth, dream, fantasy—invade the realism and change the whole basis of the art.” 

Source: Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 304.

A term introduced by the Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier, who “saw in magic realism the capacity to enrich our idea of what is ‘real’ by incorporating all dimensions of the imagination, particularly as expressed in magic, myth, and religion.” 

Source: Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, 4th ed., ed. Bruce Murphy (N.Y.: HarperCollins, 1996), p. 635.

For more information, see What is Magical Realism?

Mary Higgins Clark Award

The Mary Higgins Clark Award is given annually at the Edgar Awards to a novel featuring as protagonist “a nice young woman whose life is suddenly invaded” and who “solves her problem by her own courage and intelligence.” The award is named after famed suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark, who died on January 31, 2020, at age 92.


“A work, usually a play, based on a romantic plot and developed sensationally, with little regard for motivation and with an excessive appeal to the emotions of the audience. The object is to keep the audience thrilled by the arousal anyhow of strong feelings of pity, horror, or joy. Poetic justice is superficially secured, the characters (either very good or very bad) being rewarded or punished according to their deeds. Though typically a melodrama has a happy ending, tragedies that use much of the same technique are sometimes referred to as melodramatic.” 

Source: Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 312.

motif (motive)

“In literature, recurrent images, words, objects, phrases, or actions that tend to unify the work are called motives.” 

Source: Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 330.


William DeAndrea defines mystery as “the literature of crime–of robbery, chicanery, murder, and worse.”

SourceEncyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television (N.Y.: Prentice Hall, 1994), p. ix.

Traditionally, that crime is murder, and mystery is the genre of literature that portrays the detective’s process of discovering who the killer is. The detective in question may be either a police officer (in which case the novel is called a police procedural), a private investigator (PI), or an amateur (e.g., Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher). There are other types of mysteries in addition to the police procedural, most notably the cozy, which comes from the British tradition, the hard-boiled, and the noir

A mystery is technically different from a thriller. In the mystery, the killer is unknown to both the detective and the reader, and both the detective and the reader proceed through the story together, with the reader trying to figure out the killer’s identity along with the detective. In a thriller, the reader knows from early in the story who the killer is; the reader then watches the detective at work, hoping that the detective will find and subdue the killer before the killer kills again. This approach is becoming increasingly popular in modern novels, which often present the story in alternating chapters from the detective’s and the killer’s points of view. 

Like other genres, mystery has its conventions, its rules of the game. A good statement of those conventions is Raymond Chandler’s ten commandments for the detective novel, below. A good mystery author plays fair with the reader by honoring these conventions.

Raymond Chandler’s ten commandments for the detective novel

  1. It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the denouement.
  2. It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection.
  3. It must be realistic in character, setting, and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world.
  4. It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element; i.e., the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading.
  5. It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.
  6. It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.
  7. The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.It must not try to do everything at once. If it is a puzzle story operating in a rather cool, reasonable atmosphere, it cannot also be a violent adventure or a passionate romance.
  8. It must punish the criminal in one way or another, not necessarily by operation of the law . . . . If the detective fails to resolve the consequences of the crime, the story is an unresolved chord and leaves irritation behind it.
  9. It must be honest with the reader.

[From The Book of Literary Lists (1987) by Nicholas Parsons, page 129]

fancy scroll

© 2007 by Mary Daniels Brown


Also see: narrative structure, plot

In its most basic meaning, narration refers to the presentation of events over time: “This happened, then that happened, then the next thing happened.” 

Narration’s “purpose is to recount events. . . . There are two forms: simple narrative, which recites events chronologically, as in a newspaper account; and narrative with plot, which is less often chronological and more often arranged according to a principle determined by the nature of the plot and the type of story intended.” 

Source: Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 336.

Also see: The Interplay of Plot and Character in Fiction

narrative perspective

See point of view

narrative structure

Also see: narration, plot

Narrative structure is the order in which an author chooses to reveal the various actions and events of the story’s basic plot.

For more information, see these posts:


Also see: point of view

“Anyone who recounts a narrative. In fiction the term is used for the ostensible author or teller of a story. In fiction presented in the first person, the ‘I’ who tells the story is the narrator; the narrator may be in any of various relations to the events described, ranging from being their center (the protagonist) through various degrees of importance (minor characters) to being merely a witness. In fiction told from an omniscient point of view, the author acts self-consciously as narrator, recounting the story and freely commenting on it. A narrator is always present, at least by implication, in any work, even a story in which a self-effacing author relates events with apparent objectivity. A narrator may be reliable or unreliable. If the narrator is reliable, the reader accepts without serious question the statements of fact and judgment. If the narrator is unreliable, the reader questions or seeks to qualify the statements of fact and judgment.” 

Source: Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 337.

Nebula Awards

“The Nebula Awards® are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Founded as the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965 by Damon Knight, the organization began with a charter membership of 78 writers; it now has over 1,500 members . . .

“Since 1965, the Nebula Awards® have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story eligible for that year’s award. The Award for Best Script was added in 2000. An anthology including the winning pieces of short fiction and several runners-up is also published every year.”

Source: Nebula Awards

Ned Kelly Award

Established 1n 1995, the Ned Kelly Award celebrates Australian crime writing, both fiction and nonfiction. It is named after Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, who was a writer as well as a horse thief, cattle rustler, bank robber, and murderer. 

Source: Crime Reads

New Criticism

“A movement in 20th-century American literary criticism . . . . The New Critics were united in their emphasis on dealing with the text directly; they insisted that a work of art be considered as an autonomous whole, without regard to biographical, cultural, or social speculations.” 

Source: Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, 4th ed., ed. Bruce Murphy (N.Y.: HarperCollins, 1996), p. 726.

New Criticism arose from the writings of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Chief among the New Critics were John Crowe Ransom, whose 1941 book The New Criticism gave the movement its name; Allen Tate, R. Blackmur, Cleanth Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, Kenneth Burke, and Yvor Winters.

New Journalism

A style of writing that arose in the 1960s and 1970s. New Journalism rejected the notion of the objectivity of the writer in favor of prose that included evidence of the author’s opinions and personality. New Journalism employed novelistic techniques such as dialogue, descriptive detail, authorial commentary, and strong narrative to produce works that read more like novels than like traditional journalism.

In the 1960s and 1970s the term nonfiction novel was often used to describe works of New Journalism. Today we are more likely to see the terms creative nonfiction, literary journalism, and literary nonfiction used to describe these works. 

Writers influential in the establishment of New Journalism include Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Truman Capote. Capote’s book In Cold Blood (1955) is the seminal work in the genre.

© 2008 by Mary Daniels Brown


“The term was coined by postwar French film critics as film noir (black film) to describe the sort of movie characterized by dark photography and a despairing, doom-laden sense of life. Scholars of the mystery story found it convenient to use the term for work that shared the same attitude. . . . Typical themes in noir work include obsessive love (or hate, or both), amnesia, illness, betrayal, and man-as-the-plaything of fate” 

Source: DeAndrea, William L. Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television (N.Y.: Prentice Hall, 1994), p. 403.

Example: Chance by Kem Nunn

A term commonly seen currently is Scandinavian noir, which refers to dark crime and mystery novels by Scandnavian authors, for example, the Millennium trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, and The Girl Who Played with Fire) by Stieg Larsson.

novel of manners

“A novel dominated by social customs, manners, conventions, and habits of a definite social class. In the true novel of manners the mores of a specific group, described in detail and with great accuracy, become powerful controls over characters. The novel of manners is often, although by no means always, satiric.” 

Source Harmon, William and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 354.

Examples: the novels of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton

Otherwise Award

An award encouraging the exploration & expansion of gender.

Source: Otherwise Award

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